Architectures of Inequality: Evaluating Houses, Kinship and Cosmology in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, A.D. 800-1200

Heitman, Carolyn Campbell, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Plog, Stephen, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
McKinnon, Susan, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia
Most, Rachel, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Whiteley, Peter
Cameron, Catherine

Within the confines of what is now the Chaco Culture National Historical Park, 17 monumental masonry structures (great houses) and numerous circular communal structures (great kivas) were built during the ninth through twelfth centuries A.D. in and amongst over 200 contemporaneous small house sites. For over a hundred years, archaeologists have struggled to understand the degree and form of social inequality evident during the prehistoric occupation of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Using archaeological and ethnographic data, this dissertation examines the connection between symbolic investment in house construction and the construction of social hierarchy during the Chacoan florescence (A.D. 800-1200). The goals of this analysis are to assess the utility of house society models for Chaco Canyon and to determine if the insights enabled by such models help us identify if and how social hierarchies were expressed or constructed through the idiom of the house. This dissertation begins with an examination of the intellectual history of kinship theory and its application in archaeological research in the American Southwest. Using a broadly comparative approach, I then outline a series of ethnographic patterns and practices based on both ethnographic homologues and cross-cultural analogs in an effort to broaden our understanding of the potential sources of social inequality as evidenced through houses, and analyze the cultural practices inscribed therein. To this end, I identify object forms and materials as well as dimensions of house construction, maintenance and features for archaeological examination. Through the examination of twelve house structures and their associated artifact assemblages, this study provides a new body of data yielding insights both on what practices were shared among canyon inhabitants and what was truly, and hierarchically, different about the great house site of Pueblo Bonito. The results of this study contribute to a more holistic understanding of houses occupied during the Chacoan era in at least three ways: First, by identifying new materials, forms, contexts, and processes used to layer houses with cosmological meaning; Second, by demonstrating that many of these processes were shared amongst great houses and small house occupants; and third, by demonstrating how frequent, redundant, iterative, and ritualized investments in Pueblo Bonito were intended to demonstrate precedence and its status as an origin house. iv Architectures of Inequality: Evaluating Houses, Kinship and Cosmology in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, A.D. 800-1200 Carolyn Campbell Heitman Charlottesville, VA M.A., University of Virginia, 2004 B.A.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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